EU must change its ways after Brexit vote
In an extraordinary plenary held in Brussels on the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, GUE/NGL group have passionately called on the European Commission to change its ways and start listening to its citizens.
Opening on behalf of the group, President Gabi Zimmer spoke of the EU’s current malaise:
“Placebos won’t help if the patient is seriously ill. We are talking about the future of the EU and we’ve seen the erosion process accelerate thanks to Brexit.”
“But the EU caravan rolls on. We are not seeing any real self-criticism, any thoughtfulness there. That’s why my Group is unable to vote in favour of the resolution,” she said.
On the survival of the EU, Zimmer said the leadership is to blame for the struggles of the Union:
“The deep financial and economic crisis has imprinted itself on the consciousness of its citizens. Interference in the sovereign actions of national governments and indeed, interference with constitutions.”
Zimmer calls for a new social deal for the EU with social protection and equal pay for equal work at the heart of its policies:
“Thatcher’s original idea that ‘there is no such thing as society’ has become a dangerous part of EU policy, too. It’s no coincidence that many of the Brexit supporters are people concerned about social security, pensions and jobs. The EU through its austerity policies hasn’t shown that it’s concerned about people and the need to protect them from the impact of globalisation,” the German MEP said.
Zimmer also cautioned against forcing the UK into activating Article 50 for secession talks immediately:
“We don’t want any punishment for the UK because of their decision but we want clarity. We don’t want negotiations until the UK has notified us of its exit.” she argued.
However, Zimmer reserved her harshest criticism for the far-right populist campaign:
“Their racist campaign will be remembered for stoking fears for migrants and foreigners.”
Irish MEP Martina Anderson also had tough words for the EU’s leadership but emphasised that the majority who voted Remain in the North of Ireland must not be ignored in the subsequent negotiations:
“We ask you to respect our vote. We stand by the vote of the people of North of Ireland, which, just like Scotland, voted remain.”
“We accept, we respect and we will defend the wishes of the people of the North of Ireland. However, if English votes drag us out of the EU, that would be like Britannia waives the rules.”
“There was a democratic vote – we voted to remain. I tell you that the last thing the people of Ireland needs is an EU border with 27 member states stop right in the middle of it!” she concluded.